Not content with dominating MMOs, digital card games and RTS Blizzard have now set their sights on first person shooters. The hype for Overwatch was so immense that even I, the hater of FPS titles, couldn’t resist giving it a go. Overwatch’s zany cast of playable characters (who look far more interesting than the generic soldiers associated with the genre) was the chief draw, plus I knew Blizzard would make the game accessible to everyone and not just the deadeye gunslingers who usually dominate the COD scene. Matches are 6v6 affairs requiring teamwork to succeed. The emphasis on coordination means that even those deficient in reflexes can contribute towards victory, although it can get infuriating when you get grouped up with idiots who charge off on their own. It seems that Leeroy Jenkins has relocated from WOW’s servers to Overwatch.
Overwatch matches begin with players picking an avatar from a roster of over twenty characters. Each of the heroes are classed as either damage dealing offence, tanks who can soak up a ton of bullets, support who for the most part heal the injured and defenders who specialise at fortifying a position. Regardless of their class everyone in Overwatch plays radically different. Bastion and Mei for example are both defence toons, but their skillsets are nothing alike. The aforementioned Bastion stands his ground by transforming into a turret whilst Mei stops foes in their tracks by freezing them with a glacial gas canister. Most players will naturally gravitate to a role/character that suits their play style, but if the situation requires that you swap over to a different hero fear not because they are all a hoot to control (well except for Symmetra… she sucks.)
I personally favour characters like Mercy and Reinhardt due to the fact that I possess the aim of a Storm Trooper. The angelic doctor Mercy isn’t expected to kill anyone, as she specializes in mending hurt allies whilst man mountain Reinhardt doesn’t need to hit targets with a gun – his weapon of choice is a massive close range mallet. All of Overwatch’s cast are distinct and blessed with some rather interesting backstories. Shame then that their histories are not explored in-game due to the focus on multiplayer skirmishes. There’s no single player story mode to partake in, which is a real pity. Even less popular titles like Battleborn make an effort to provide some single player levels and content for those who favour co-op missions free of human controlled opponents. Yes there is an option to duel AI bots, but after a while that game mode gets stale.
My rating for Overwatch is four and a half stars. Thus far I have had a blast hopping online to join fellow gamers who endlessly toil in battles were you must secure an objective or escort payloads to an assigned destination. Like many competitive titles balance is an issue, but to date Blizzard have been quick to buff/nerf abilities when the need arises (shame that the same cannot be said for cards in Hearthstone.) I am also confident that the company will support the game for many years with additional content, which is necessary to keep things fresh. Since release a competitive league has been added, a new character has been introduced and to commemorate the Olympics a 3-a-side mode called Lucio Ball has been patched in. Its pretty much Rocket League with cars being replaced by dreadlocked chaps.
The icing on the cake is that Overwatch’s catalogue of well-designed levels includes my tiny homeland of Gibraltar (we are famous for our rock, apes and beating Celtic at football.) A stage modelled after your place of birth is almost as cool as the game’s line-up of gorgeous ladies. Overwatch lacks a RPG progression system, but levelling up does reward you with loot boxes containing cosmetic items. That alone will motivate me to keep on playing, as I will not rest until my Mercy is outfitted to look like a naughty devil. Evidently I am not the only one who approves of Overwatch’s aesthetics. Tracer’s victory pose was altered after complaints that it highlighted her hiney and I am reliably informed that adult sites are hosting clips starring Overwatch’s females. What’s the deal with video game porn? These days I can’t even do an image search on Pokémon Go without stumbling across some nightmarish pictures.